The difficulty got here to a head when Lee was required to finish a health take a look at earlier than the squad left South Africa. She requested to do it in her mother and father’ hometown of Ermelo within the Mpumalanga province of South Africa as an alternative of at her provincial base, North-West, or at CSA’s headquarters in Johannesburg due to the price of journey. Lee weighed herself and despatched the outcomes to the crew’s health coach, who advised her she needed to even have her skinfold measured. Lee visited a biokineticist in Ermelo for that take a look at later within the day, however didn’t weigh herself once more as a result of “it fluctuates and it is small margins”, she mentioned on the podcast. “I am not going to do it once more as a result of if it is over [the limit] I will not be eligible for the England tour.” She advised the biokineticist she had recorded her weight herself.
She was subsequently chosen for the tour and retested on arrival in England in early July, the place, in accordance with Lee, her “skinfolds had been down however the weight wasn’t even near the place I assumed it would be”.
“We have now to ensure, particularly with ladies, the issues that actually rely must rely extra – like operating and expertise, all of these issues that truly contribute in direction of profitable as an alternative of how individuals look”
CSA requested Lee for an evidence and established that Lee’s weight had not been verified by the biokineticist. In an e mail to CSA workers on July 5, Lee mentioned she knew that she ought to have examined her weight once more however did not, “as a result of I used to be afraid that it’d differ from the morning which could end in me not being chosen” and conceded she “that was unsuitable and that I ought to have completed it there”.
The next day – July 6 – Lee was knowledgeable through e mail that she can be withdrawn from the squad. In communication between CSA and Lee, seen by ESPNcricinfo, CSA additionally mentioned it could train its proper to withhold an NOC for participation in leagues till she “met and maintained workload and health necessities”. CSA has since confirmed it was assured Lee may use the six to eight weeks away from the nationwide squad in June and July forward of The Hundred to satisfy the necessities if she returned house. They had been additionally anxious about her type and hoped she may work whereas at house on that too. Previous to the tour, Lee had performed seven ODIs in 2022 and scored 81 runs at a mean of 11.57, together with 5 single-figure knocks.
Lee, nevertheless, was involved that she wouldn’t get an NOC in time for The Hundred, which might have appreciable monetary implications, particularly as she had simply turn into a mum or dad. “It was some huge cash,” she mentioned. “We wanted it. We’re a younger household. So I simply mentioned I used to be going to retire.”
By way of CSA, she initially issued a press release saying she was able to concentrate on the subsequent section of her profession however, days later, tweeted that nationwide coach Hilton Moreeng was conscious of CSA’s intention to disclaim her the NOC. That was in response to Moreeng telling a press convention he had no data of the Lee state of affairs.
Lee accused CSA of failing to supply her any assets to assist her shed weight. “I by no means received any assist from CSA with that,” she mentioned. “They by no means requested me ‘what do you want, what can we do that can assist you shed weight’. That is one thing that I’ve needed to do alone.” CSA has denied that assertion.
Lee recognised that CSA was “of their rights to try this [withhold the NOC] and that is 100% superb”, however criticised their health necessities. She mentioned that bracketing an athlete’s capacity to run together with their pores and skin folds and weight is just not a real measure of cricketing capacity and would favor that the cardiovascular and physique composition elements be separated.
“I perceive the operating, should you do not make the operating, they do not see you as match sufficient to play which I believe might be superb,” she mentioned. “The large factor that simply received me is that I made health bodily, I did the operating that I needed to do. Principally, I am match to play, and I had this dialog with them earlier than Eire as a result of I received dropped in Eire due to my weight as nicely, and I advised them ‘you are dropping me due to the best way I look and the way a lot I weigh’ they usually mentioned ‘no, we’re dropping you since you failed the health battery’.
“I mentioned ‘sure, however should you break the health battery down, what did I not make? I made the health, the operating, however not the load. So that you’re dropping me due to weight’. In order a girl that breaks me.”
Lee’s gender is the explanation CSA didn’t make these particulars public, with a number of officers citing an understanding of the sensitivity of body-image points going through ladies as a motive to maintain the matter personal.
In early 2020, CSA held a conditioning camp for Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi, JJ Smuts and Sisanda Magala focused at, amongst different issues, their weight. On the finish of the camp, all 4 gamers took health exams and Magala was the one one who didn’t go. He was subsequently neglected of an ODI squad to play England and his challenges have been nicely documented. Magala, regardless of being the main wicket-taker within the home one-day cup within the 2021-22 season, will proceed to be unavailable for nationwide choice till he meets the health necessities.
Lee requested for a whole relook on the strategy of health exams, particularly for ladies. “We have now to ensure, particularly with ladies, the issues that actually rely must rely extra – like operating and expertise, all of these issues that truly contribute in direction of profitable as an alternative of how individuals look.”
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent